Research Activities: 2007


Developing Raman Spectroscopy for the Nondestructive Testing of Composite Materials



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Sequential Number


Identification Number


Matching Research Agency

Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)


Principal Investigator

Glenn Washer, Ast. Professor
Lafferre Hall Rm. 2502
University of Missouri - Columbia
Columbia MO 65203

Student Involvement

This project will support a M.S./Ph.D. student (1/2 time) for 1 year to conduct the research and testing.

Project Objective

To develop new nondestructive evaluation technologies for the inspection of composite materials.


Project Abstract

The proposed research will develop the application of Raman Spectroscopy as a nondestructive evaluation tool for the condition assessment of carbon fiber composites.  Composite materials are increasingly being used in engineered structures and components, ranging from highway bridges to airframes and pressure vessels. These materials have a high strength to mass ratio, making them ideal materials for inclusion in space vehicles, hydrogen cars and aircraft.  There exists a critical need to develop nondestructive evaluation technologies that can be used to assess the condition of these materials in-situ, such that components and systems can be managed and repaired during their service lives.  To date, NDE technologies developed for the inspection of composite materials have focused on mechanical damage scenarios, such as impact and fatigue.  There is growing concern that environmental degradation of these materials leads to reduced strength during their service lives, and presently there are no NDE technologies capable of characterizing the degradation of composite materials in-situ. The proposed research will investigate if Raman spectroscopy can be used for the condition assessment of composite materials during their service lives.  Raman spectroscopy is a laser technique that is sensitive to molecular interactions in ordered materials such as graphite and carbon fibers.  For carbon materials, the technique has been shown to be sensitive to applied elastic stresses and structural order on a molecular level. Traditionally a laboratory technique, new instrumentation implementing fiber-optic probes has extended the potential for this technology beyond the laboratory.  The potential exist for implementation as a hand-held device for the inspection of engineering components and structures, including bridges and hydrogen vehicles. 


Task Description



Anticipated Benefits

The research will develop NDE technologies for the condition assessment of carbon composite materials.  The technology will enable and improve the ability to assess the condition of bridges, hydrogen vehicles and other engineered structures utilizing carbon composite materials.

Modal Orientation



Project Start Date:07/01/2008
Project End Date:



Relationship to other Research/Projects

The project extends ongoing work in the area of condition assessment and nondestructive evaluation.


Technology Transfer Activities

The scope of the project includes close interaction with State transportation officials on evaluating existing coatings and developing improved coatings.  Technology transfer will occur through reports submitted to MODOT.  Additional technology transfer will occur through presentations and technical papers at regional and national conferences.

Transportation Research Board Keywords

Structural members, painting, inspection